LORIENT, France Sylvain Calzati (AG2R) of France broke from a six-rider pack with about 19 miles left in the stage to claimed the eighth stage of the Tour de France by more than two minutes Sunday.
Sylvain Calzati winning Stage 8 of the Tour. (Beth Schneider)
Sylvain Calzati winning Stage 8 of the Tour.
Calzati, 27, completed the 181-kilometer (112.4-mile) effort from St.-Meen-Le-Grand in four hours, 13 minutes, and 18 seconds, and with a 2:05 margin over second place Kjell Carlstrom (Liquigas) of Finland. Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole) of France was third in the same time.
Serhiy Hanchar (T-Mobile) of Ukraine, the 2000 world time trial titlist who assumed the race lead after winning the Stage 7 time trial, retained his one-minute overall margin over Floyd Landis (Phonak) of Murrieta, California. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) of Australia is third overall, trailing by 1:08.
Calzati, claiming the first Tour de France stage of his career, improved to 37th overall. He broke from field after approximately 30 miles with four other riders, including David Zabriskie (CSC) of Salt Lake City. A sixth rider joined the group and it remained at the front of the field for most of the rest of the stage.
Calzati attacked as the leaders approached the final of the stage's four categorized climbs, a one-mile ascent with an average 5.2 percent grade.
"I talked with my manager. We had a plan to attack," said Calzati, the second French rider to claim a stage in this year's Tour. "I can't explain why I attacked. It was just a feeling. But I knew if I could get to the top of the climb first, I could do it. I felt really fresh."
Zabriskie, who became the race's virtual leader as the breakaway group built as much as a 7:30 margin, was stung by a bee after about 31 miles. He eventually finished in 100th position in the main group, 2:15 behind.
Zabriskie improved one position to ninth overall, trailing Honchar by 1:53. George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) is the next highest of the six Americans left in the race and is 17th overall, 2:30 behind.
The Tour de France's 93rd edition will have the first of two rest days Monday.